Police and thieves on their screens, Oct 2–9


Every Friday, Law Decoded delivers analysis on the week’s critical stories in the realms of policy, regulation and law.

Editor’s note

Historians typically date the birth of international policing as we know it today to the 1800s, a response to the explosion in nationalist movements and non-governmental political radicalism in Europe. Just as new linking technologies like the telegraph and the steam engine aided and abetted new networks of political deplorables and any number of Sherlock Holmes plots, the explosion of communications tech of the last quarter-century has brought about new forms of crime. 

Which is, y’know, something everyone passively knows. In crypto, association with crime is a familiar reputational issue that is present but certainly not unique. New technology giveth and taketh away. Law enforcement’s interest in controlling new networks also grows. Paranational organizations like drug cartels and terrorist cells come to mind.

This week saw the U.S. Department of Justice press criminal charges against ISIS agents behind American deaths including James Foley’s, a move that expands their power to prosecute foreign agents as criminals under U.S. law. The FBI also busted up a home-grown far-right conspiracy to kidnap the governor of my home state of Michigan. In crypto, several jurisdictions have laid claim to new authority, with the DoJ in particular making a number of moves to expand its jurisdiction.